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How The Earl Of Surrey And The Fair Geraldine Plighted Their Troth In The Cloisters Of Saint George's Chapel








Barriers were erected on the following day in the upper ward of the
castle, and the Lady Anne and her dames assembled in the balcony in
front of the royal lodgings, which was decorated with arras, costly
carpets, and rich stuffs, to view the spectacle.

Perfect in all manly accomplishments, Henry splintered several lances
with his brother-in-law, the Duke of Suffolk, who formed an admirable
match for him in point of weight and strength; and at last, though he
did not succeed in unhorsing the duke, he struck off his helmet, the
clasp of which, it was whispered, was left designedly unfastened; and
being thereupon declared the victor, he received the prize--a scarf
embroidered by her own hands--from the fair Anne herself.

He then retired from the lists, leaving them free for the younger
knights to run a course at the ring. The first to enter the arena was
Sir Thomas Wyat; and as he was known to be a skilful jouster, it was
expected he would come off triumphantly. But a glance from the royal
balcony rendered his arm unsteady, and he missed the mark.

Next came the Duke of Richmond, superbly accoutred. Laughing at Wyat's
ill success, he bowed to the Fair Geraldine, and taking a lance from his
esquire, placed it in the rest, and rode gallantly forward. But he was
equally unsuccessful, and retired, looking deeply chagrined.

The third knight who presented himself was Surrey. Mounted on his
favourite black Arabian--a steed which, though of fiery temper, obeyed
his slightest movement--his light symmetrical figure was seen to the
greatest advantage in his close-fitting habiliments of silk and velvet.
Without venturing a look at the royal balcony, the earl couched his
lance, and bounding forward, bore away the ring on its point.

Amid the plaudits of the spectators, he then careered around the arena,
and approaching the royal balcony, raised his lance, and proffered the
ring to the Fair Geraldine, who blushingly received it. Henry, though by
no means pleased with Surrey's success, earned as it was at the expense
of his son, complimented him upon his skill, and Anne Boleyn joined
warmly in his praises.

The lists were then closed, and the royal party retired to partake of
refreshments; after which they proceeded to the butts erected in the
broad mead at the north of the castle, where the Duke of Shoreditch and
his companions shot a well-contested match with the long-bow.

During these sports, Surrey placed himself as near as he could to the
Fair Geraldine, and though but few opportunities occurred of exchanging
a syllable with her, his looks spoke a sufficiently intelligible
language. At last, just as they were about to return to the palace, he
breathed in an imploring tone in her ear--

"You will attend vespers at Saint George's Chapel this evening. Return
through the cloisters. Grant me a moment's interview alone there."

"I cannot promise," replied the Fair Geraldine. And she followed in the
train of the Lady Anne.

The earl's request had not been unheard. As the royal train proceeded
towards the castle, Will Sommers contrived to approach the Duke of
Richmond, and said to him, in a jeering tone "You ran but indifferently
at the ring to-day, gossip. The galliard Surrey rode better, and carried
off the prize."

"Pest on thee, scurril knave--be silent!" cried Richmond angrily;
"failure is bad enough without thy taunts."

"If you had only missed the ring, gossip, I should have thought nothing
of it," pursued Will Sommers; "but you lost a golden opportunity of
ingratiating yourself with your lady-love. All your hopes are now at an
end. A word in your ear--the Fair Geraldine will meet Surrey alone this
evening."

"Thou liest, knave!" cried the duke fiercely.

"Your grace will find the contrary, if you will be at Wolsey's
tomb-house at vesper-time," replied the jester.

"I will be there," replied the duke; "but if I am brought on a bootless
errand, not even my royal father shall save thee from chastisement."

"I will bear any chastisement your grace may choose to inflict upon
me, if I prove not the truth of my assertion," replied Sommers. And he
dropped into the rear of the train.

The two friends, as if by mutual consent, avoided each other during
the rest of the day--Surrey feeling he could not unburden his heart to
Richmond, and Richmond brooding jealously over the intelligence he had
received from the jester.

At the appointed hour the duke proceeded to the lower ward, and
stationed himself near Wolsey's tomb-house. Just as he arrived there,
the vesper hymn arose from the adjoining fane, and its solemn strains
somewhat soothed his troubled spirit. But they died away; and as the
jester came not, Richmond grew impatient, and began to fear he had been
duped by his informant. At length the service concluded, and, losing all
patience, he was about to depart, when the jester peered round the lower
angle of the tomb-house, and beckoned to him. Obeying the summons,
the duke followed his conductor down the arched passage leading to the
cloisters.

"Tread softly, gossip, or you will alarm them," said Sommers, in a low
tone.

They turned the corner of the cloisters; and there, near the entrance of
the chapel, stood the youthful pair--the Fair Geraldine half reclining
upon the earl's breast, while his arm encircled her slender waist.

"There!" whispered the jester, chuckling maliciously, "there! did I speak
falsely--eh, gossip?"

Richmond laid his hand upon his sword.

"Hist!" said the jester; "hear what the Fair Geraldine has to say."

"We must meet no more thus, Surrey," she murmured:

"I feel I was wrong in granting the interview, but I could not help it.
If, when a few more years have flown over your head, your heart remains
unchanged."

"It will never change!" interrupted Surrey. "I here solemnly pledge my
troth to you."

"And I return the pledge," replied the Fair Geraldine earnestly. "I vow
to be yours, and yours only."

"Would that Richmond could hear your vow!" said Surrey; "it would
extinguish his hopes."

"He has heard it!" cried the duke, advancing. "But his hopes are not yet
extinguished."

The Fair Geraldine uttered a slight scream, and disengaged herself from
the earl.

"Richmond, you have acted unworthily in thus playing the spy," said
Surrey angrily.

"None but a spy can surprise interviews like these," rejoined Richmond
bitterly. "The Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald had better have kept her
chamber, than come here to plight her troth with a boy, who will change
his mind before his beard is grown."

"Your grace shall find the boy man enough to avenge an insult," rejoined
Surrey sternly.

"I am glad to hear it," returned the duke. "Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, I
must pray you to return to your lodgings. The king's jester will attend
you. This way, my lord."

Too much exasperated to hesitate, Surrey followed the duke down the
passage, and the next moment the clashing of swords was heard. The Fair
Geraldine screamed loudly, and Will Sommers began to think the jest had
been carried too far.

"What is to be done?" he cried. "If the king hears of this quarrel, he
will assuredly place the Earl of Surrey in arrest. I now repent having
brought the duke here."

"You acted most maliciously," cried the Fair Geraldine; "but fly, and
prevent further mischief."

Thus urged, the jester ran towards the lower ward, and finding an
officer of the guard and a couple of halberdiers near the entrance
of St. George's Chapel, told them what was taking place, and they
immediately hastened with him to the scene of the conflict.

"My lords!" cried the officer to the combatants, "I command you to lay
down your weapons."

But finding no respect paid to his injunctions, he rushed between them,
and with the aid of the halberdiers, forcibly separated them.

"My lord of Surrey," said the officer, "you are my prisoner. I demand
your sword."

"On what plea, sir?" rejoined the other.

"You have drawn it against the king's son--and the act is treason,"
replied the officer. "I shall take you to the guard house until the
king's pleasure is known."

"But I provoked the earl to the conflict," said Richmond: "I was the
aggressor."

"Your grace will represent the matter as you see fit to your royal
father," rejoined the officer. "I shall fulfil my duty. My lord, to the
guard-house!"

"I will procure your instant liberation, Surrey," said Richmond.

The earl was then led away, and conveyed to a chamber in the lower part
of Henry the Eighth's gate, now used as a place of military punishment,
and denominated the "black hole."





Next: Of Tristram Lyndwood The Old Forester And His Granddaughter Mabel

Previous: How The Fair Geraldine Bestowed A Relic Upon Her Lover



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